Some of us here on the BoldRide team truly love off-roading. Taking to the trails on the weekend is great, but none of our weekend activities hold a candle to driving the Lunar Rover on the greatest off-road trip of all time.
The ionic Lunar Roving Vehicle (pictured above) traveled to the Moon with the crew of Apollo 15 in 1971, and was also used by the crews of Apollo 15 and Apollo 16. But the vehicle that we’ve come to know as the Moon Buggy, was not our original attempt at such a vehicle.
Our friends at BestRide delved into the history of one of the Lunar Rover prototypes, with help from a lengthy report from Vice’s Motherboard. It was thought that this prototype had been scrapped, or at the very least, lost to history. The whereabouts of this Rover started to circulate when it was sold by an Alabama junk collector, to a scrapyard. The fear was that the scrapyard had destroyed the historic vehicle.
The vehicle in question did not look like the one you see in history book. Several companies submitted proposals for Lunar Rovers, including Boeing, Bendix, Grumman and Chrysler. The parameters were for a vehicle that weighed 462 pounds, carry 1,000 pounds, and had to be hinged in the middle to it could be folded up for its long trip to the Moon.
This vehicle was different from the others submitted. It was known as the Local Scientific Survey Module, developed in 1965 as part of a subcontract with Brown Engineering Company. The image above is of the LSSV, with Werner Von Braun at the helm.
For half a century, no one knew its whereabouts, until a U.S. Air Force historian driving through Blountsville, Alabama spotted it in 2014. He alerted NASA to its whereabouts, and the agency sent a team to verify, but when they got there, they learned it had been sold to a scrapyard. Luckily the yard hard not yet scrapped the LSSV.
The current owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, is now consulting with an attorney to determine his options. We’re just glad this obscure piece of history still exists.